Hard to believe it’s been over two months since I’ve posted. Trust me, my intentions have been to give some updates, but I seem to have forgotten how to write anything witty or interesting. Hang on…It’s coming back…I need brain yoga for creative flow!
There isn’t much on the book front, nothing really concrete that I’m ready to share, anyway. I’ll just be cagey and say I hope to have some good news soon…The Flower Bowl Spell got a really nice review from ForeWord Reviews online. Click here if you want to read it. Yes, I do write reviews for them too; however, we are all freelancers and I don’t personally know any of their other reviewers. Actually, this is what happened: I’d entered their Book of the Year Awards 2012 contest, but got disqualified since I write reviews (Should have figured that out, right?). They offered to do an online review instead. A total no brainer. I got some feedback from a few people who have read the review via Goodreads or on my blog, saying they would check out my book. Huzzah!
On the personal front, I went to my college reunion in May, and took my daughter with me. It was our first trip with just the two of us, and we had a lot of fun. We also visited friends and relatives on the East Coast so that was a bonus. In June, my family and I went to Hong Kong to visit more relatives and see the places my mother used to frequent in her formative years. Sweltering, muggy heat, but what are you gonna do?
A conversation started at the American Girl Bistro outside Boston
(my daughter’s response: “Why would I tell you that?”)
The Hong Kong skyline
The Star Ferry in Hong Kong
Summertime ushers my kids into camp and other fun activities. It also means some of my freelance gigs slow down, so I’ve spent more time getting some rough drafts into shape. Scrivener software has been more useful than I ever imagined. The tutorial was really helpful—I don’t think I could have just plunged in and started using it without going over that—but that’s just me.
I hope all of you are having a marvelous summer. And I promise not to let two months go by without any news. Pinky promise.
Today is the first day of school for my oldest, and my youngest is off with his grandma, and I’m back in the saddle. Or am I?
I’ve cleared my freelance docket and have a quiet moment. I could be writing. I could be revising. Instead, I’m getting to the little things that need to be done, but really, could wait until a bit later…bills, prescription refills, digital photo organizing, updating the blog. It’s all important of course, and my butt is in the chair, yet it’s not really a Butt in Chair (BiC) do-the-damn-work moment. It’s an ahem, ahem, throat-clearing one.
And that’s OK. Those are allowed. Take my upcoming reading at Phoenix Books in San Francisco a week from today (that would be Monday, August 27, 2012, if you want precision). I need to figure out an excerpt that’s appropriate. As author Dina Santorelli pointed out in a recent post, you want something that’s exciting, but doesn’t give too much away. and that’s not always the novel’s opening.
So, I’m in the saddle, yes. Not quite at a trot. More of a slow amble. I know it’s not New Year’s, but it’s the beginning of the School Year, and I’m making a resolution! I resolve to put my writing at the top of the To Do List everyday, and not beat myself up if it doesn’t quite happen.
Back in the day, I wrote a lot of book reviews for a major newspaper. Not a whole lot, but with some regularity. I developed a relationship with the book review editor there. Then, he left, taking a golden handshake. The new editor threw me a few bones. But eventually, he stopped. I’d send friendly emails now and then, letting him know I was available. Not one reply. “Well,” I told myself. “That’s that then.”
About a year later, I noticed that the author of the last book I critiqued for this publication had published a book review there. Hm, I thought. That’s interesting. Guess the new editor who had chosen to ignore me liked her. A few months later, another of her reviews appeared. And then another.
Today, there was a review in that very same newspaper about a new book by an author I’ve long admired. I glanced at the reviewer’s name. Guess who? Yup—the last author I had reviewed there! An author whose chosen subjects and themes have very little to do with the subjects and themes of my favorite author. Well, what did I do? I’ll tell ya!
I saw green.
I decided I sucked. As a writer. And a reviewer. And a person.
At the same time, I knew I could have written that review. I knew that my review would have been just as good, if not better. Maybe it would have won an award or gotten the notice of and a big appreciative laugh from Anthony Lane. I wondered where I had gone wrong in life, what had led me down this path of obscurity and mediocrity. When I was 30, I had so much promise! Ten years later, what have I done wrong?
But, I didn’t wallow for long. I couldn’t. I had to get dinner on the table for my kids. And I had a blog post to write, a certain rant about those doubts that are always there, even as they get shaken loose a little by the need to monitor the boiling water for chicken tortellini.
Finally, finally, finally! I uploaded my novel, The Flower Bowl Spell, to Amazon for the Kindle. I really hope it looks good. The preview made me worry that the cover and my author photo are going to somehow get converted to tiny pixellated images of cameras with an exclamation point. Still waiting on Premium Status for Smashwords, but have sold a few copies and had some sample downloads, huzzah!
Apologies also for the lack of maintenance on my Publications page. I know, I need to get some hyperlinks in there, and I will make it so, very soon! I promise. This whole formatting and uploading thing has hold of all my attention, and also the strange loss of many of the WordPress widgets when I went from having a straight blog to my own domain name. But that’s boring. The fact is, I was up late last night (that means 1 a.m.—it’s a wild life I lead), trying to figure out where all my sexy widgets went. So that, and putting off my actual paying work has been the M.O. the last couple of days. In fact, I’m starting to feel almost as anxious about it as I do about all the stuff I have to do for indie publishing. Stress—what a motivator!
The Lipsticks of Elizabeth Street: A Noe Valley Cosmetics Line Is Born. Sorry for the wee blog (or, you’re welcome!), but just wanted to share some journalism/feature writing I’ve done and did. Yes, I wrote this article about a very cool entrepreneur in my nabe. Please read!
Today was completed wasted in tracking down proof that I do NOT owe the City and County of San Francisco 16 times the amount of money they accused me of owing, that I do not, in fact, actually owe them ANY money at all! It’s really boring, but long story short, having to crawl through my garage looking for a copy of a check I wrote back in 2005, plus going through all my files, getting on the phone with various bureaucrats, etc., is really, really draining, and leaves very little room for those creative juices to flow. I can’t even think of something fun to blog about.
Good news is, I don’t owe money. Huzzah!
If you can, avoid being self-employed. Unless you are [INSERT FAMOUS, RICH AUTHOR AND ENTREPRENEUR NAMES HERE]. There is little pay-off, although I do enjoy working in my PJs and answering to no one (except my clients, of course). Since I write fiction for free, non-fiction is where I make that butter and bread (very small loaf). I have written for the San Francisco Chronicle, Marin Magazine, Poets & Writers, San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, and ForeWord Magazine, among others. Mostly book reviews, a few essays, interviews, even encyclopedia entries. Stuff like that. I was a caption writer for the America 24/7 photojournalism project. I am the Other Voices section editor of The Noe Valley Voice, if you care to submit poetry, fiction, or artwork. I’d gladly consider it.
I also write web content for the hospitality industry, meaning the stuff you read when you go to a hotel’s website to check them out. You won’t see my byline on that sort of thing. It’s all pay, no glory, but I don’t mind it—the working in my PJs thing.